A photographer who has never shot in a studio is faced with a huge amount of information and challenges: attachments, filters, the right interaction with space, model and light, camera settings and source power.
We continue to make life easier for novice photographers during studio shooting and tell in simple terms how pulsed and constant light differ and in which case each of them can be useful.
What is pulsed light
A flash light is a light that gives off a short, bright flash. It just won’t work like that — a synchronizer is needed that tells the lighting device when to work.
The synchronizer reads information from the camera when you press the shutter button and instantly transmits it to light sources so that they give an impulse. The studios give out a synchronizer when your shooting time begins, so there is no need to buy it additionally for studio shooting.
Pulse light features:
- as a rule, the power is higher than that of a constant;
- more contrast images;
- freezes the movement, so the probability of getting a blurry frame is very small;
- you don’t see the result, so trial shots are needed to get it right.
This problem is solved by a pilot light built into the source — a constant light that gives an idea of how chiaroscuro will fall. But note that not all flashlights have this feature. In addition, the pilot light can be quite weak, being lost against the background of other light sources. But, if you shoot in the dark, it is necessary — otherwise the camera will not focus on the object.
— a sharp picture, regardless of the luminosity of the optics and the class of the camera;
— if you are thinking about buying light for yourself, then pulsed is cheaper and more powerful than constant. For example, a kit that includes several sources can be found in the range from 12 to 82 thousand rubles. The higher the price, the higher the power. The light comes immediately with racks and attachments — umbrellas or softboxes. For a home mini-studio, it remains to buy only backgrounds. For example, a white fabric background with a stand and black to it. Both backgrounds can be painted in any color using color filters;
— a short flash blinds the model for a moment, and does not shine in the eyes all the time;
— other light sources, as a rule, do not interrupt the pulse power.
Pulsed light is more common than constant light. Some photo studios, when renting a hall, provide pulsed light for free, and constant light for an additional fee. So be sure to check if this studio has a permanent light and, if so, how much it costs to rent.
What is constant light
Constant light (sometimes called movie light) is light that does not change. It does not require synchronizers. It can be provided not only by professional equipment, but also by any lamps, lights, garlands, signs in the studio. If you illuminate the model’s face with a mobile phone, this is also a constant light. As a rule, in photo studios, the power of such light is less than pulsed, due to its high cost.
Permanent Light Features:
- the black and white pattern is immediately visible. This is a good tip for a beginner who can correct the result of the final picture before pressing the shutter button.
- any extra light source can spoil or change the look of the picture.
You need to carefully control everything that happens in the studio. Open windows, overhead lights on, an open door with bright lamps in the next room — absolutely everything affects.
- higher probability of blur and defocus;
- you need a faster aperture technique than when shooting with pulsed light;
- allows you to simultaneously shoot high-quality, atmospheric backings;
- suitable for video shooting;
- you can put any shutter speed;
- if you shoot with a hard light directed at the front of the face, it can strongly dazzle the model;
- you need to shoot at higher ISO values, control aperture and shutter speed to avoid blurry images.
Universal lighting schemes for the beginner
How to take a low key portrait
Low key is a dark photo with high contrast and spotlights. Pictures taken this way are deep, dark and dramatic.
We will need:
- Black background;
- one light source on the side;
- a model standing at a sufficient distance from the background so that the light does not reach it.
Experiment with different positions of the light and its power. Be prepared that the first time you press the button on your camera, you may not get the perfect picture.
How to take a high key portrait
High key is unnaturally bright lighting, light shadows and, as a result, soft, reduced contrast. Suitable for shooting children, delicate portraits.
We will need:
- White background;
- four light sources. Because of this, it is problematic to simulate such an effect at home, it is easier to rent a studio;
- a model standing at a sufficient distance from the background so that the shadow of a person does not fall on the background.
For a high key, the background will have to be highlighted. Moreover, the power of these sources should be higher than those directed to the model. This is necessary for a perfectly white background without shadows and creating the effect of an “overexposed” image.
How to make a classic portrait with Rembrandt light
The peculiarity of Rembrand light in chiaroscuro, which is obtained on a person. Its main “marker” is the less illuminated half of the face with a barely distinguishable light spot in the form of a triangle in the area under the eye, as well as high contrast.
We will need:
- a light source with a reflector to make the light hard;
- a reflector placed at a 45-degree angle to the flash to slightly illuminate half of the face that would be in shadow;
- a model standing at a sufficient distance from the background to make it moderately dark.
How to make an Esquire-style portrait
The peculiarity of the portraits made for this magazine is in hard light, a spot of light at the level of the head of the model in the background, vignette along the edges and cold toning.
We will need:
- white or gray background;
- a beauty dish or a small softbox so that the shadows are hard enough;
- a light source with a tube attachment, which will create a spot of light behind a person;
- model at a distance of 2–3 meters from the background.
When is the best light to use?
If we talk about the result, the use of pulsed or constant light does not differ much from each other. The light and shadow pattern, the hardness or softness of the light determine the nozzles, power, location and distance between the source and the model. When choosing between types of light, it is more important which one you and the model are comfortable working with. But there are nuances.
- For business, beauty or fashion shoots, pulsed light is traditionally used.
- If you need to freeze motion — shooting restless children, dancers in motion — use momentum.
- Constant light opens up space for bold creative experiments. For example, if you want to try yourself in abstract surreal scenes, where defocus and blur are not important (and even welcome, to be part of the idea!)
- If you plan to shoot video at the same time, use constant light, since the recording will flicker with a pulse.
- There are models with eyes that are sensitive to bright flashes. In such people, whites may turn red, they begin to cry and blink rapidly. In this case, try switching to constant light.
- If you need a finer adjustment of power, for example, to give a subtle accent, the constant light will allow you to fine-tune yourself.